What follows is an update from neighbors on St. George. (and the current FB conversation).*
We are a group of residents from St. George Avenue and the surrounding area, writing to express our fierce opposition to the proposed construction of a Catholic church that would change the character of Crozet’s most historic neighborhood.
Following meetings and discussions with Crozet Mission officials, it has become apparent that the planned scope and size of the proposed church is tremendously out of scale with the neighborhood. It has also come to our attention that many members of the Crozet Mission as community members at-large are unaware of the massive impact that the proposed church would create on the St. George neighborhood.
At the initial community meeting for the Crozet Master Plan earlier this month, residents shared that the historic nature of Crozet was one of the things people valued most about our community. Residents also shared their appreciation for the small town, neighborly feel of the community. In the spirit of these two community values, we would like to be very direct with the Catholic Mission and other community member to be transparent and voice our total opposition to this proposal.
We oppose the plan to build a church of this size on St. George Avenue for several important reasons. Based upon discussion with church officials, the plan would:
· Require demolition of several historic residential homes on St. George Ave in order to accommodate current needs and future growth.
· Initially add 284 parking spaces, which is more than twice the existing space in both parking lots at Crozet Baptist Church.
· Increase vehicle traffic on St. George Avenue and Railroad Avenue multiple times per week, creating risk to pedestrians and cyclists on streets with limited sidewalks and a road width of only 18 feet.
· Increase storm water runoff from the proposed paved lot and cut-through from higher elevation to a section of homes that already deals with localized flooding.
· Require room for growth. Church officials stated to us that they plan to eventually have a footprint of up to 10 acres and accommodating up to 1500 people for weekly Mass within 20 years.
· Lastly, violate two longstanding tenets of the Crozet Master Plan:
1. That “Existing Neighborhoods and the Downtown Area will be preserved, new and infill development will be appropriate in and scale and type; and
2. That “Crozet will continue to encourage a sense of community through its history.”
This proposal would forever change the character of our historic street. Residents of this street have purchased and painstakingly worked to preserve the historic homes that so many expressed appreciation of at the recent Master Plan Kick Off.
In fact, two of our neighbors on St. George Avenue who are adjacent to the proposed site have already received letters from the Crozet Mission stating their interest in buying their property to develop “a new church and required parking.” The owners, our neighbors, are not interested. Both of these properties are outlined in yellow on the handout PDF map we have provided. The church, by their own admission, must aggressively expand into one of Crozet’s last historical neighborhoods and demolish additional historical homes if they are to meet their hopeful future growth.
This is not simply a matter of only Anderson Funeral Home being “replaced” with a small church. This is the purchase of multiple properties and eventual demolition of four historical homes, while creating a massive influx of traffic and non-residential activity into this quiet neighborhood.
Let us be clear: we sympathize with our Catholic friends and neighbors over their search and understand the process has been frustrating. However, we are unwilling to sacrifice the character and safety of our street and this historic neighborhood for this development.
We have collected over 200 signatures of neighbors and community members who are opposed to this proposal, and we will be prepared to challenge this plan in strength, numbers, and perseverance. We cannot imagine how this plan, which would so dramatically impact this neighborhood, would be a fruitful foundation for the Catholic Mission. This is not the way to begin a thriving relationship between a church and its town; on the contrary, it would do a disservice to both Crozet and to this congregation .
We hope that the members of the Catholic Mission will hear our concerns and decide to seek another, more appropriate site for their church. We invite the community, at large, to help the Mission look for alternative sites that better suit the needs of this church, and to reach out to their search committee should anyone know of any potential candidates.
You can read more about the proposed site on our fact sheet, and sign our petition to express your opposition to the proposal at www.ipetitions.com/petition/preserve-st-george-avenue-and-historic-crozet.
Concerned Neighbors of St. George Avenue and the Surrounding Area
Update 23 September 2019
“We wanted to reach out with an update. Another neighbor has received an offer letter from the Crozet Mission to purchase their land-we have amended the map on our handout to show the size of the potential proposal. Properties that have received offer letters are now outlined in yellow.As you can see, the combined original proposed properties in red (with whom the Mission states in these letters they have ‘an agreement in principle’ to purchase) and the properties who have received purchase offer letters comprise a sizable portion of St. George Avenue, totaling 8.4 acres of land.Please see attached one of the offer letters that one of us received from the Crozet Mission.As we stated previously, while we absolutely sympathize with the Crozet Mission needing room enough to grow, a site that from the very get-go requires offering to purchase three neighbors’ properties is not practical, both for the church and for our neighborhood.“*
*Jim’s note about the letter: The person who sent me the email said this,” Letter is below, along with updated handout and a copy of one of the offer letters. I talked to Sebring, the recipient, and he is ok with his information being shown in it. I redacted the church contact information for reasons of privacy.”